ON-Lion Letter
The July 2011 issue of the Journal of Democracy includes a package of articles examining the wave of unrest that swept through the Arab world at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011.

The wave originated in Tunisia.  In "Ben Ali's Fall," Loyola University of Chicago's Peter J. Schraeder and the University of Tunis' Hamadi Redissi describe what happened in Tunisia and assess the prospects that it will make a successful transition to democracy.

"Several early signs suggest that Tunisia's Second Republic will be marked by strong prospects for democratic transition and consolidation," Schraeder and Redissi write, including the fact that "the scope of political debate has only increased as prominent exiles have returned home."

In the wake of the Tunisian revolution, Egyptians threw off the 35-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.  According to Harvard University's Tarek Masoud's "The Road to (and from) Liberation Square," however, they now find themselves under essentially the same military tutelage that they had hoped to escape by launching their struggle.

"It may ... be premature to say that Egypt's autocratic regime has fallen at all," Masoud writes.  "[T]he country is being governed by a military junta not unlike the one that seized power in 1952 and inaugurated the autocratic era from which Egyptians are now trying to extricate themselves."

Widely reported as "Facebook revolutions," the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt show that social media not only can ignite protests, but also can help determine their political consequences. 

In "The Role of Digital Media," according to the University of Washington's Philip N. Howard and Musammil M. Hussain, "Social media have become the scaffolding upon which civil society can build, and new information technologies give activists things that they did not have before:  information networks not easily controlled by the state and coordination tools that are already embedded in trusted networks of family and friends."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports the Journal of Democracy.
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